As we spend so much time in school and then in college, people there constitute our social environment. Some of them become our coworkers or clients, and some even become our best friends or loved ones. This system of social connections and interactions is based on communication. The better we communicate, the more comfortable we feel within this big system.
Communication with class- or groupmates has a number of perks. It is not only a part of educational process, but it also plays a significant role in extracurricular leisure activities and in formation of wider social and professional networks. Let us split communication between classmates into groups by settings in which it occurs — in the classroom, outside the classroom but still classroom-centered (on the phone, online, via text messages), and extracurricular. Students benefit from each in a slightly different way.
Communication is a part of educational process, and group- or classmates need to interact a lot as they participate in discussions, do class projects in working groups, or do any type of class assignment that requires interaction. Dr. Caroline Ho with the English Language Institute of Singapore highlights the role which communication plays in formation of a professional identity in students. Through communication, students construct knowledge and incorporate it as a part of their identity. To become professionals in their subject area, students need to talk, write, and think like professionals. It can be easily practiced through constant interaction with others in class.
The author Lin Grensing-Pophal differentiates between groups where strong communication prevails and groups where fear of being criticized dominates. Good communication allows group members (classmates) openly share ideas, discuss them and then put into action. Sharing and mutual learning is best when every member makes a contribution to the common ideas bucket.
While equality and importance of every member is emphasized, every group is better with a leader who does mainly the job or organizing and delegation. Leader also sets the standards for quality of communication and spreads positive moods.
Communication outside of the class is essential when it comes to certain organizational issues. For example, many groups have their space online where they make important announcements, can look up home assignments or can get reach of a particular person. However, in a wikibook Effective Student Organization, the authors suggest that relying solely on online means of communication may result in misinformation and communication breakdown between the groupmates. It is important also to interact through other means or—which is even better—face to face.
It is always a nice thing, to have at least a few contacts for emergency cases. For example, when you miss a class, you can get the assignments or ask your groupmate for class notes, so that you do not trail behind the rest. Anything can happen, and you would want to make sure you have someone to inform you in case you missed something important, or someone to pass your message through. It might also happen that you will need help with your homework — a groupmate with whom you interact regularly would probably be your first choice.
There are many other benefits of communication between classmates and groupmates which are not that evident. By maintaining connection, you are contributing to your professional network — you may need professional skills and qualities of those you made your class projects together, as well as they may require your expertise or services. Moreover, there have been many successful companies, such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, or Yahoo!, whose co-founders used to study together. So, one should never underestimate the consequences of starting a conversation one day.